Chambliss: Don’t Call My Support For Privatizing Social Security ‘Privatization’

During an interview with Hannity and Colmes last night, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) falsely claimed that he “never sought to privatize social security”:

COLMES: Do you acknowledge now that, had we privatized Social Security, as you wanted to do, people would be suffering even more and losing their life’s savings in the name of retirement? […]

CHAMBLISS: I never sought to privatize Social Security. I do think that people ought to have some control over their money, rather than the government, just mandating to them how they’re going to invest their money.

After Colmes challenged Chambliss’s response, Sean Hannity jumped to the senator’s defense repeatedly arguing that Chambliss was not for privatization, but rather for “choice.” Chambliss agreed saying, “privatization is not the right word.” Watch it:

In fact, Chambliss is a strong and long-time supporter of privatization. In July, Chambliss argued that the “key” to preserving the Social Security program was allowing workers to invest their social security payments in private “personal retirement accounts.” Indeed, in an article titled “Social Security privatization victorious in 2002 elections,” Michael Tanner — leader of the social security privatization initiative, SocialSecurityChoice.org — praised Chambliss’s election victory over incumbent Sen. Max Cleland (D) in 2002:

… Cleland had attacked Chambliss for wanting to turn “the Social Security benefits of people on Main Street over to Wall Street to play Russian roulette with.” Chambliss, in contrast, signed a pledge…promising to support individual accounts if he was elected.

Cleland’s argument was extremely prescient. Despite Chambliss’s claim that privatization would result in workers getting a “return that’s greater than what the government has gotten on the Social Security trust fund,” the Wonk Room found that someone retiring in October 2008 who had invested in Chambliss/Bush-style private Social Security account for 35 years would have “seen a negative return on their account…and lost $26,000 in the market.”